High Energy Satire In Vernon God Little

By Stuart Black Last edited 32 months ago
High Energy Satire In Vernon God Little ★★★☆☆ 3

Callum McGowan as Vernon.

Londonist Rating: ★★★☆☆

Shame on the yuppies of Docklands. In The Space, they have a terrific venue just a five minute walk from Canary Wharf that consistently punches above its weight, yet how many suits do you see dropping by to show their support for the place? Well, more fools them as this little gem of a theatre — housed in a church dating back to 1859 — has the area’s best bar and a sweet summer beer garden too.

The latest show in the ramshackle main hall is Vernon God Little. Adapted by Tanya Ronding, this wild and whirling version of the Booker Prize winning novel by DBC Pierre originally played at the Young Vic in 2011 and was perhaps the best show of that year. Now, with no budget but seemingly boundless energy, a talented young ensemble gives the Kentucky fried satire a scaled-back but well-deserved reprise.

The picaresque story focuses on Vernon, an average American kid who is mistakenly identified as an accessory in a high school shooting then tossed from shrink to television to penitentiary. The self-serving adults who claim to want to help him soon reveal themselves to be American Gothic gargoyles determined to push Vernon further into himself until finally he makes off for Mexico to get some head space.

It’s a restless show, reflecting the adolescent frustration of the main character, with a suitably cartoonish sensibility that recalls The Simpsons at times. Clearly everyone is having great fun and the spirit is hugely infectious — with show-tunes, hip-hop, gospel and Latin music in the mix (though it should be said that the singing is better than the playing on the whole). There are at least two real stars in the making on stage though no-one in the cast could be accused of slouching — unlike the salarymen of Docklands who were conspicuous by their absence last night and really need to get down there to show some local love.

Vernon God Little runs at The Space, Westferry Road, E14 3Rs until 11 April. Tickets £10-14. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary ticket.

Last Updated 28 March 2015